Tuesday, 8 September 2009
I’ve been cooked several times in my life and I’m bloody sick of it.
Having blond hair and fair skin is seen by some as a blessing. Phrases like “blonds have more fun” may give the impression that we are rampant extroverts with a party animal mentality and can make any social occasion memorable.
Unfortunately the truth of the matter is that blonds are cursed. I won’t even begin to discuss the common myth that blond people are stupid. You’ve all heard the jokes:
How do you make a blond’s eyes twinkle? Shine a torch in their ear.
Actually, blond jokes are geared towards airhead blond women (at least that’s what people telling blond jokes tell me) so I like to think that people don’t consider me to be stupid just because of the colour of my hair.
How are we cursed then?
We are basically allergic to the sun (well excessive sun at least).
So does that make us vampires? In a way, it does. I’m not saying that I am an evil undead monster who sleeps in a coffin all day and then marauds around at night, attacking young female virgins and bleeding them dry. Last time I checked, a cross didn’t burn my skin and the closest I get to drinking blood is when I have a medium rare steak. Besides, I quite like garlic.
The sun has a similar effect on my skin as it does on your average vampire. I don’t burst into flames and crumble into ash. However I do cook, albeit very, very slowly.
When I was young, like most stupid youths, I considered myself to be indestructible. I would jump around like an idiot, climbing trees, throwing myself off walls and leaping into water from great heights. I was a moron (okay maybe I was a true blond in those days). And I actually thought that I could spend a whole day in the sun without getting sunburnt.
The first time I remember being cooked, I was on holiday in Bala, a lovely little town on the edge of Bala Lake in mid Wales. I was eighteen and four of us were discovering the glory of alcohol and more importantly freedom from our parents. It was my first real holiday with them and I was ready to take the next stupid step.
On that fateful day, we drove to the lake and hired a boat. It was a gloriously sunny day and, being a complete and utter bonehead, I chose to sail on the lake without a shirt. I still don’t know why I did this. Even my mates suggested that perhaps I should wear a T shirt. I wouldn’t mind but my physique wasn’t exactly worthy of parading to other sailors. I was so skinny that I resembled a living skeleton. Arnold Schwarzenegger I wasn’t.
What was I hoping to achieve? If any young women had seen my bony body they would have either fled in disgust or called an ambulance. Either that or tried to play me like a glockenspiel.
I stepped onto that boat looking like a milk bottle. I stepped off it, three hours later, looking like a strawberry milkshake with a blob of chaotic cream on top.
I burned really badly. When I pulled on my T shirt, I screamed like a little girl. There were tears in my eyes as we travelled back to the cottage. I didn’t sleep a wink for the entire night. My whole upper body felt as if it was infested by tiny microscopic devils pummelling my skin with pneumatic pins.
Worse was to come. I came to terms with my stupidity, thinking that the red skin would gradually become brown. It’s not so bad, I thought. At least in a week or two I will look like a tanned hunk and the girls will throw themselves at me.
My red skin began to peel. Having never seen this phenomenon before, I began to panic. My dad reassured me saying that it would be all over soon (as he struggled not to laugh). It was as if I was covered in layer upon layer of cling film. I peeled off great swathes of skin. I could have made curtains for the whole street out the skin. There was almost enough to create another human being. One time, I pulled skin off my entire torso and arms like a jumper.
As the initial pain diminished, it was replaced by a terrible itch all over the exposed and grilled area. I scratched and scratched and ripped off handfuls of skin. It was horrific – just like the incredible melting man. You’ve seen “The Fly” with Jeff Goldblum? That was a picnic compared to me.
And what was the colour of my skin after I had shed more coats than a rampant snake? You've guessed it - white!
Since then I have been very careful. I love to travel to very warm and sunny places and laze on the beach; now I sit in the shade and cover any exposed bits of my body in factor 3 million sun block.
Many people ask me why I bother going to hot places if I come back looking like a ghost. I love sitting in the shade watching people, reading, listening to music; the only difference is that I don’t have skin like leather with more wrinkles than a ninety year old man. My fair skin makes me look younger than my years and I am often mistaken for a man in his mid-thirties.
That said, I have accidentally been grilled a few times.
At the Monsters of Rock festival a few years ago, I foolishly neglected to take a bottle of sun block. As I watched the various rock bands, I was unaware that I was gradually roasting in the sun. The only problem was that the sun was constantly on my right hand side, so I acquired a rather lopsided burn; the right hand side of my face was red raw as was my right arm. My left hand side was milky white.
I looked utterly ridiculous for weeks.
Another time I was caught out was at a cricket match in Manchester. The sun was intense and I burned quite badly. I was wearing sunglasses and when I returned home, I looked at myself in the mirror; a red and white panda stared back at me.
Even though I am proud that I have milky white, fair skin that has preserved a semblance of youth, I am envious of those who simply look at the sun for seconds and turn a lovely bronze colour. In my youth it always seemed to me that bronzed men attracted the best women; of course in my case bronze skin probably wouldn’t help because a bronze baboon isn’t the most attractive beast on the planet.
So what is the worst place to fry? Well in my experience, the backs of the legs is a pretty nasty place because you simply cannot sit down. On one occasion I burned the bottoms of my feet – that was very unpleasant.
But the worst place? Well I’ll leave it to your imagination but suffice it to say I am glad that I am not a naturist.